What does paid work mean to women and how have those meanings changed over time?
But whilst sociological research into women had a cultural throw which reached far beyond professional social science, its authors could not always control the meanings it acquired in the hands of others.
It could, for instance, be deployed by professional women’s bodies to advance demands for flexible working, or by civil servants to legitimize inaction on day care provision for the children of working mothers.
At first the government politely discouraged those women who wanted to perform some kind of military service.
It soon became clear that the war was going to demand much more than the government had expected.
These decades witnessed important developments affecting women across social classes: marriage became more or less universal and took place earlier, while families shrank in size and were completed in a shorter space of time.
Free universal secondary education and healthcare did not eliminate social inequalities, but it did improve educational opportunities for girls and the health and longevity of older women.
It was bombed and sunk by the Japanese and twelve nurses were drowned.
Another group of 22 nurses, captured by the Japanese on the Indonesian island of Banka, were marched off the beach into shallow water and killed by machine gun fire.
These were not combat forces, as the government was determined that no female auxiliary forces would serve outside Australia.
As the situation became more desperate, some women were called on to serve overseas, particularly in New Guinea.